[Collab] Week 342: Aeria and the Aedificare's Apprentice

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Aeria Luxus

New Member
Mar 11, 2019
Dahlitium (⏆50 per)
Bigatium (⏆100 per)
Auritium (⏆300 per)
Vitatium (⏆1200 per)
Caelitium (⏆6000 per)
The sounds of enlil speech filled the air, fluting and delicate, as Aeria’s violet eyes moved across the sight of bright plumage and the scents of food that recalled her childhood. Her mother was a tremendous cook and the family feasts of Aeria’s younger days had lingered in her mind. Now that she was no longer being hunted actively by any major legal organization, she seemed more relaxed. She had still been clinging more to crowds, seeming to blend in better.

This sector of Terminus was full of thick, bustling crowds. Merchants hawked their wares and the sounds of fruit vendors selling the latest delicacies from Boreas carried over the whole variegated tapestry of feathers. As Aeria walked, she scanned all of the various sights, enjoying the clamour of the whole place.

In her distraction, she almost stumbled over a young male enlil, bumping into him as he stood still. His feathers were stunningly bright and lovely, but he had the wide-eyed and semi-lost look of someone new to the metropolis. Aeria apologized, but added a little more comment. “You look a little bit lost, if you don’t mind me saying. I was like you at one point in time, so I know how it feels when you first get here.”

She added hastily, “I’m not trying to sell you anything or coerce you into anything, just observing. I hope you don’t take offense!”

Mille barely noticed that little bump, or the talking that followed, since he was still overwhelmed by just how many people were in one place. The population of his village would fit between the two nearest corners with room to spare! At least in Zephii there were plenty of Borean trees to remind him of home, but here… wow. Straight walls, flat paths, buildings level with each other - it was like some kind of highly ordered surrealism.

The variegated brown and red avian slowly broke out of his stupor and turned to face whoever had just bumped into him. His gaze was caught by the deep sapphire eyes of a Laicar woman, who looked a bit flustered. Mille took a small step back and said with hands raised as if in surrender, "No, no, you haven't said anything offensive, I was just a bit… lost, as you said."

Mille hooked his thumbs into his belt, looked deep in thought for a moment, then snapped back out of it and said, "Sorry, where are my manners? I'm Mille Piscatus, new apprentice at East Street Blacksmith. Quality tools, mechanical components, weapons and armor."

The rest of the newcomer's blurted response stayed behind his lips - General lack of direction and bonus confusion provided free of charge…

Aeria extended her hand to Mille and gave him what seemed like a tentatively reassuring smile. “My name’s Aeria Luxus, I’m pleased to meet you!”

This young enlil exuded an interesting mixture of confidence and reticence. It was likely reticence born from being used to much smaller groups of people and uncomfortable in the general hustle and bustle of Terminus. Hoping to set him more at ease, she said, “I’m an engineer, so I love quality tools and mechanical components!”

Her voice struck a tone that seemed calculated to avoid prying as she asked, “Where did you originally come from before finding yourself here in the big city, Mille?”

The rainbow-topped avian couldn't help but notice Aeria's mirrored answer, which hammered in just how awkward he was acting. The beginning of a smirk tugged at Mille's lip, betraying his amusement at their little conversation. He pointed into the ground at an angle and said, "Far, far, far that way. West coast of Boreas."

Mille straightened up the bag slung over his shoulder, got bumped into by a passerby, and then straightened it up again, giving a glance behind him before returning his attention to Aeria and saying, "And you?"

Mille was clearly starting to relax a little, so she smiled in his direction. “I was born in Boreas, but my family moved to Secare when I was just a little kid.”

She pointed at the fuzzy, feathery hair on the top of her head. “I’m spurii, although you can’t tell that easily, and my parents felt a lot of pressure from our village because of their marriage, so we moved. Maybe things are different in Boreas now?”

The apprentice's brow furrowed as he thought carefully about his response, because how you phrase these things is important. He then said, "Well, I don't quite know about that, but I do know that my home village is a bit more open-minded, since my grandparents and parents worked through that issue there. I've got a velen grandpa, enlil grandma, spurii dad and enlil mum. I think of myself as an enlil with… one velen feature."

Following up this comment, Mille gestured at the chitinous surface of his arms.

Aeria raised an eyebrow. “Well that is rather interesting, now, isn’t it? I’m glad to hear that things are better, at least in your village! Progress is progress right?”

The smile that touched her lips was warm and genuine. She had a sense of pessimism about people and their treatment of spurii , but perhaps that pessimism wasn’t entirely correct. The slim young spurii gestured at the bustling madness around them and asked, “So how are you settling into city life? It has to be a pretty major change from a small town in Boreas.”

Mille's face lit up at the sound of home. His shoulders relaxed and he waved around a bit as he said, "Yeah! It's totally different! There's so many people here! And so much stuff! I just came down here to get some food for dinner, but there's like five of everything! So do you recommend any of the stores around here? And would you happen to know where I might go to get some training in the schools of Castus, Aquila or Enchanting?"

There was something so charming about the openness and seeming innocence of this young man. She smiled another warm smile at him. “I’ll do better than recommend stores, I’ll take you to them! Come on, Mille, let’s walk so that this crowd doesn’t flatten us.”

Aeria gently guided him with one hand on his arm as they began to move along the bustling street. As they walked, she kept talking. “My magical training was in Occultus, but I do know where you might learn what you’re interested in learning. Food first though hm?”

The lean, slim spurii guided Mille into the first market, one that sold Borean fruit for reasonable prices. “I love this place,” Aeria mused with a grin, “It takes me right back to my childhood.”

As they browsed, the energetic young woman turned to her new companion. “What do you plan on doing when your training as Aedificare is complete?”

While carefully turning over a watermelon to inspect its colouration to gauge its quality, Mille said, "Well, my apprenticeship gives me income and a place to stay, but I'm primarily here to 'see the outside world', so to speak." Happy with what he saw, the avian fished some change out of his belt and handed it over to the shopkeeper. The older gentleman raised his eyebrows at the appearance of Mille's hand now he could see it, and Mille returned the look back. Thankfully this interaction was nothing more, and the avians returned to their respective business.

As the pair made their way further along the culinary selection, the newcomer said, "I'm working part-time, so that gives me plenty of time to go exploring and try new things. I heard there's some big attractions here, are there any you would recommend?"

As was the case with most long time residents of a city, the spurii didn’t think of Terminus as a place with attractions in it, but if one was new in town, some of the places would likely make a powerful impression.. “Well, I’d say that you have to see the Specula Sorcere! It’s one thing to see it from a distance, but the blue crystal is spectacular up close especially in the morning light. The other place I’d recommend is the Sapientia Coetus. It is one of the engineering marvels of Araevis.”

She pondered a moment before adding, “If you haven’t seen a kinchaa game before, it is worth doing! I know someone who can get us some tickets and maybe even get us behind the scenes if I ask nicely.”

Aeria smiled at Mille. “Would you like me to take you to see the Specula Sorcere and the Sapientia Coetus? I know something about the engineering behind them, if you’d be interested.”

So there's a blue crystal, some kind of engineering marvel and a game?

Mille continued wandering along the line of stalls, keeping an eye out for some fish for dinner. He ducked under the elbow of an oncoming laicar with an entire deer over his shoulder - How heavy is that?! I've never lifted a fish that big by myself! - before he had a moment of walking without almost crashing into anyone to turn and answer, "We need tickets to go see a kinchaa game, and the floating blue crystal looks best in the morning, so how about we go for a quick look at the Sapi-uhh, something coitus?"

The slim spurri’s eyes went wide for a moment and she let out a hearty chuckle. “I barely know you! Let’s wait a bit shall we?"

Mille's eyes widened as he realized what he just said. He abruptly stopped, looked straight at Aeria and stammered, "Wait, no… no no no I didn't mean that! Um… sorry, I must have misheard you! Uhh… it's an engineering thing, right?"

With a good natured smile, she continued. “You mean the Sapientia Coetus. It’s an institution of higher learning. Engineering is one of the many things they teach there.”

They were now, subtly, shifting their direction at Aeria’s bidding so they could head toward the Sapientia Coetus. As they ambled, Aeria looked at Mille. "I do wonder about the turns life takes us on. I never thought I’d be here. Ever get the feeling that you are dreaming, that this isn’t really your life?”

Apparently this was the right turn to take, because one of the stalls that came into view was lined with sloping shelves stacked with ice, and fish. So, so many fish. Well, it takes a lot to feed a city after all. On the way there, the youthful avian glanced towards it and said, "Well… I never considered being in a place where the fish isn't straight from spear to kitchen. Seeing it kept fresh with ice makes sense", and with a shrug he said, "but at the same time it feels weird."

The pastel-coloured feathery fuzz on Aeria’s head bobbed as she nodded and listened. She tapped her fingers lightly on her lips in thought. “I hadn’t thought of it like that but you’re right. It’d be odd for sure for you.”

While visually inspecting the goods at the fishmonger's stall, Mille said to Aeria, "I'm in a place cold enough that ice doesn't turn into a puddle in an instant, and the closest body of water is a puddle. Well, a bit bigger than a puddle, anyway. Not seeing the endless ocean and forest right next to me just feels so out of place. I don't think it's a dream though."

A smile flitted over the young woman’s slightly androgynous features as Mille spoke, something wistful in her face. “I felt that same feeling of missing home at first here too. It was strange without all of Boreas’ trees and the air was so dirty in comparison. I guess we adapt because now this is home.”

The discerning young man finally made his choice, paid up and added it to his haul. "So tonight's dinner will be a bit of a mix… some kind of fish-potato-onion-mushroom thing? With watermelon for dessert, because that totally makes sense. You wanna join us?"

There was the barest moment of hesitation before the slim, energetic spurii gave a sharp affirmative nod of her head. “Yes! I’d love to join you. I can even help you cook! I’m told I’m not half bad.”

"Sweet!" Mille turned and looked around, pointed back up the street they just walked down and asked, "East Street's that way right?"

The spurii grinned brightly at him. “Yes, you’ve got it!” There was encouragement in her tone and the small crest of pastel feathers on her head raised itself briefly.

The feathered pair made their way through the throng of the market as sunlight dimmed quickly, the sun's rise and fall sharpened by the mountains that formed a natural barrier around the city. The brightly-lit, open areas down the middle of the streets turned into dim threads weaving between gas lamps that flickered into life, lighting up the trader's alcoves which were places of refuge from the sun not so long ago. While definitely more crowded than home, the city of Terminus definitely had its own charm.

Mille settled into the flow of people heading away from the markets, looked to Aeria and asked, "So, what do you do in the city at the centre of the world?"

“Other than being recognized by way too many people because of...past exploits? Well I repair and build mechanical devices. I only recently got more liberty than I’ve had for quite some time, so I guess I am just re-adjusting. It’s a long story…”

As if to move them on before any more questions were asked, the violet-eyed spurii raised an eyebrow at Mille. “How do you like your apprenticeship? It has to be hard work, apprenticing as an Aedificare!”

Mille's feathered face lit up at Aeria's insight, and he exclaimed, "Hah! You know it! I'm not exactly built like grandpa, so I have to… avoid unnecessary movement. You know how working with metal requires heavy lifting and hard hitting, right? Well, if you don't have muscles for days you gotta make sure that when you put something down, you do it right, or else you have to pick it up again. And if you're gonna hammer something, smack it straight and smack it hard so you don't have to do it again. I'm guessing it's the same for any heavy parts in mechanical devices?"

The lean spurii nodded with energy pouring from her. “Yes! The worst is probably working with steam-powered devices! You have heavy parts and hot steam mixing, so you can imagine what that’s like!”

Glancing up, Aeria raised her feathered brows and let out a whistle of surprise. “Well would you look at that! Time does seem to pass by quickly in good conversation. We’re already on East Street. Lead the way, good sir.”

Mille said, half to himself, "Hah! We're almost there!" and strode down one of the few streets that was familiar to him - East Street, the location of his home and workplace.

Still within the trade district, but further away from the food markets, it was an area with more chimneys, and a different noise. One could still hear the focused conversation of buyers and sellers striking a deal, but piercing through it was the sound of metal colliding with metal, as blacksmiths finished their last pieces of work for the day.

The feathered apprentice led his new friend to a two-storey brick building squeezed between its neighbours with a sign over a large open doorway that read, "East Street Blacksmith." Mille gestured to Aeria to enter, and closed the door behind them. Here in the storefront a variety of metal weapons and even some armor was on display.

He walked past the counter and through a gap between two shelves into a larger open area - the workshop. The still-warm forge formed the centerpiece of this room, with an anvil either side, tools hanging from the walls and large bins of raw materials dotted around the room. Off to the side, almost behind the entrance to this area sat the bottom of the stairs.

Mille turned towards the stairs, stepped onto one of them and said, "Don't worry about taking shoes off until you're at the top."

He then made his way up to the top of the stairs, which led right up to the back of the building, put his shoes on the rack and yelled up the hallway, "I've brought a visitor for dinner!"

Following suit, the lanky spurii deposited her shoes at the top of the stairs and followed Mille in.

A moment later, an older, bulkier avian with faded brown feathers came out of a room, flicking some last drops of water off his arms. He made his way towards Aeria with a hand outstretched and introduced himself, "I'm Viribus. I didn't expect my idiot apprentice to bring someone home so soon."

Aeria smiled and shook her head as she felt the crushing power of the blacksmith’s grip enfold her smaller hand. “Mille and I just met and had a lovely conversation in the market. I tend not to turn down dinner invitations from likeable people. My name’s Aeria Luxus.”

Before the solidly-built enlil could speak, she continued. “I’ll forestall any commentary. Yes, I’m that Aeria Luxus. Hero of the Black Portal, former convict and current returnee from the war against the naga.”

Shrugging sheepishly, she went on. “Sorry about that. I just find it awkward when people get excited over me. It happens more than I’d like. I’d much rather be known as a humble ingeniarius. Anyhow pleased to meet you, sir!”

The ferally pretty young woman turned her violet gaze to Mille briefly to gauge his reaction. If he was new to town, he’d have no idea of her reputation in the city at all.


Mille's brow furrowed, his feathers ruffled, and he moved his weight onto his back foot, as if it would help uplift up this mental load. He then said, "Umm… that's a lot. Hero, convict, warrior, engineer? Wait, former convict? So you… got un-convicted? I am so confused."

Aeria sighed and ran a hand across her short-cropped, fuzzy pastel-hued hair and a shadow touched her face briefly before vanishing again. “For what I did during the Battle of the Black Portal, Magister Eximium considered me to have paid my debt to society and had outstanding charges stricken from the record. I’m a free woman now.”

Viribus shot Mille a stern glance, then returned his attention to Aeria, gently let go of her hand and said, "A certain someone didn't tell me to expect a war hero. Anyway, welcome to my humble abode. Can I offer you a beer?"

Once again the spurii looked uncomfortable but she seemed to regain herself quickly. “Don’t blame poor Mille, he had no idea! Sure, I’ll take a beer if you’re offering!”

In a smooth motion, Aeria tugged a chair out, sat down and crossed her legs as she sat at the table. Her gaze fell on Mille again and she smiled. “I don’t blame you for being confused. My life’s been a wild ride since I arrived in this city.

Well… she can't be that bad if uncle offered her a drink.

Mille's feathers slowly settled down as he came to grips with this novel situation. Sure, he wanted to go out into the world and have new experiences, but of course he didn't know what those experiences would be. He placed the ingredients for dinner on the kitchen counter, and fetched a jug of beer out of a cupboard with a wire mesh at the back instead of a solid wall. Normally this would be used as a food safe to keep food cold, but keeping the beer cold was a higher priority in this household. He poured three handles and set then down on the table, before taking a seat himself.

Mille slid Aeria's drink over to her and said, "Well, that wild ride somehow got you here."

Aeria sighed and nodded slowly, contemplatively. “It’s nice to mostly live a normal life. There are...still things to worry about, but at least no one’s trying to wrongfully arrest me any more.”

She took a sip of the beer and nodded in apparent appreciation before fixing her companions with a clear-eyed gaze. “Really all that I want to do is be an ingeniarius and live my life. I didn’t start out as an adventure seeker, but it kind of got thrust on me.”

The spurii’s expression brightened. “I’d love to work with you two. If you’re ever in need of some engineering advice, I am definitely your gal. I’d be happy sending more business your way as well.”

This new business opportunity lit up the older avian's eyes, and he said, "Of course! It's always good to open up new options! I'll gladly send any engineering requests your way as well. Come to think of it, while we're talking about business opportunities I've suggested to this young lad to consider getting himself training in enchanting, since I figure that'll open up another income stream for the shop. I think we can all help each other."

The slim young woman flashed a bright smile at the older avian. “He’s right to learn enchanting. I have magical skills too and they help. I do agree, we should be able to give one another assistance.”

While Viribus and Aeria eagerly talked business, Mille's stomach had something to say too. The young apprentice sheepishly asked, "Umm… shall we start on dinner?"

Aeria’s grin only widened, warm and amiable, as she turned to meet Mille’s gaze. “Sounds like a perfect idea! Do you need any help in the kitchen?”

With a naughty little smirk, Mille replied, "I shouldn't ask my guest to help cook dinner but if the potatoes were peeled, sliced and boiled while I cut the rest that would get it done faster." While filleting the fish with a practised hand, the young fisherman asked his uncle, "So, did any more jobs come in while I was out?"

Sighing in a good-natured way, Aeria took up the potato peeler. “When I was in contigeri training, you have no idea how many potatoes I peeled.”

Her hands moved with practiced ease, working quickly to peel all the spuds before taking a cutting board and beginning to slice them before she flicked them into the pot full of water and set it to boil.

Sitting back and simply observing the chaotic chemistry between these two with a beer in hand, Viribus said, "We didn't have any late customers today, except a lawyer came around and sold us some scrap metal from an old lady's estate. A big ol' pile of jewelry and cutlery, I'm sure you can sort that into the supply bins sometime."

Busy slicing up the mushrooms, Mille replied, "Huh, okay then."

Aeria turned to look over her shoulder at Viribus. “Do people just come and dump this stuff on you? Do you ever get anything odd or interesting?”

Viribus shrugged and said, "Eh, it's usually just people under or over estimating the value of what they've got, trying to sell a tiny amount of gold for too much money, or a helluva lot of copper for cheap change. One time I got a random lump of antimony so I made a handy profit selling it on to a gunsmith."

The spurii looked at Mille. “I hope he doesn’t just make you sort scrap all day!”

Mille answered, "Nah, it's good practise though. If I couldn't even identify metals, I wouldn't be able to work with them." He then finished cutting the mushrooms and started on the onion. Standing just a little bit straighter, holding his nose just a little bit higher, he said, "And right now I'm really glad they don't smell like onions!"

Aeria‘s smile grew wider and she laughed with warmth. “Oh I bet you are!”

Giving him a quick glance, she seemed to be examining his features, eyes keenly but surreptitiously taking in his posture, his facial expression and general demeanour. Her head made a quick, barely perceptible bob, as if she was confirming something for herself.

Blinking frantically to try to stop his eyes from watering while he worked, Mille picked a distraction, and asked, "So what's this Black Portal you mentioned before?"

In spite of herself, tension ran through the spurii, clenching her fists and hunching her shoulders. She took a deep breath and her frame lost its tightness after a moment. “I’d take a long time telling the full tale. You probably heard that Terminus was attacked by daemons called down on us by one of the Corrupted Races. They felt we were wantonly killing them, so they sought revenge with the horde of daemons.”

Swallowing and again taking in a deep breath she continued speaking. “There are too many twists and turns to tell, but eventually they opened the Black Portal to bring an army of daemonkind down on us and destroy us. We were very nearly routed, but there were internal complications among them as well. Their leader was destroyed by another Janu of high rank. He offered us a compromise and I wound up in the position to accept it.”

Shrugging, she finished, “I guess Magister Eximium thought I had rendered a service and I was lucky he did.”

Now she stared rather abstractly off into the distance, eyes gazing inward as if lost in contemplation.

Mille finished cutting the onions as Aeria finished her summary, and thought, That's terrible. Fighting beasts is one thing, fighting people is another, but fighting daemons coming through portals from another plane? That just sounds awful. I hope I don't have to deal with anything like that.

The potatoes looked like they had pre-softened enough, so Mille used some steel tongs to move them from the pot to the cutting board. While waiting for the potatoes to cool down a little before he could start slicing them, he turned to the contemplative storyteller, put a hand on her shoulder and said, "Hey, we're here, so you did the right thing. I'm sorry for bringing up something so dark, I didn't realise. Is there anything you'd rather talk about instead?"

A slow smile made its way across Aeria’s face, letting a sunnier expression blossom in its wake as she turned to meet Mille’s gaze. “Don’t be sorry! You weren’t to know. It’s just...awkward sometimes.”

Mille replied, "Well, at least I know now." He glanced at the potatoes and decided they had cooled down enough, so he started slicing them and assembling all of the cut ingredients into a dish to go in the oven.

Turning to take both Viribus and Mille in with her gaze, she flashed her brighter smile again. “Do you usually eat this well, you two? It seems to me that you’re lucky if you do! Do you cook too, Viribus or is it Mr. Apprentice here who does all the work?”

The older male at the table took a sip of his beer and answered, "Been cooking myself for plenty of years, but it's been handy to have someone else take turns since Mille's moved up here. Many hands make light work - as long as you train 'em. Mille worked as a fisherman before coming up here, so he at least knows how to cook food out of the water. And you're an engineer right? Have any interesting jobs lately?"

Aeria seemed to take on a different demeanour, as if she was worried about listening ears, but the shift in character only lasted a short while before her old smile returned. “Oh yes. I am not actually allowed to talk about it, but let’s just say it is no small job.”

Tapping the side of her nose, she shot the question back at Viribus. “What about you? Any interesting jobs?”

Her focus was split between Mille and the blacksmith, watching the former’s deft hands at work while listening to the older man.

Viribus's eyes lit up with a chuckle and he said, "No, no, nothing that kind of interesting. Most of the work is standard, with the occasional greaves for someone with long legs, or other minor alterations like that."

With a glint in his eye, he continued, "Although who knows what jobs could find their way to a blacksmith, an engineer, and eventually an enchanter, working together?"

The spurii gave the smith a sidelong glance and a bright smile. “Exacccctly! I’ve got no doubt we’d come up with all kinds of fascinating objects and devices!”

"Yeah, yeah, I'll get around to it!" answered the busy cook, sliding the assembled potato bake into the oven and closing the door. Mille sat down at the table, took a gulp of his beer, looked towards Aeria and asked, "Let's say I want to practise working with Terra Regia, but it's expensive, so what's the most cost-effective, legal way to get it?"

The engineer’s face was lost in a moment of contemplation, eyes gone vaguely unfocused before those violet pupils snapped back into sharpness and she met Mille’s gaze. Her face was hard to read as she spoke. “There’s really not an easy way to get it legally without spending exa. Pulveris usually turns up underwater, lateris has to be mined and volantis can be found in plant life. The catch is that it only appears in corrupted areas.”

As if turning mental pages in her head, Aeria sat quietly for a few more moments before picking up again and speaking. “I am guessing that trying to mine it needs a big operation with good security. People’d go to pretty great lengths to get it. Pulveris is the rarest because it’s only found in the waters of the corrupted oceans, not in Copiae.”

Aeria almost said more but stopped herself abruptly. Her fine brows came together as she glanced over at Mille “I wonder if there might be any in the corrupted areas of Boreas? I mean...you have contacts there. Would anyone know, d’you think?"

Mille's eyebrows dropped with disappointment, and he looked into his drink as if searching for an answer there. He sighed and said, "I was hoping there was some clever, easy way I didn't know about, but I guess not. I always stayed away from corrupted areas while fishing and hunting, because getting eaten by some abnormal beast doesn't sound like a reasonable risk. Well, I suppose I was taught basic spear fighting for a reason, but still."

The slender, but whipcord strong spurii raised an eyebrow. “If you ever want more extensive training, I am a lancer and I’d love to give you some spear fighting tips!”

As Mille lifted his drink for another sip, he suddenly froze and his gaze lit up once again, apparently illuminated by an idea. He turned to Viribus and asked, "We got some unsorted scrap today, right?"

With a quizzical expression, his master replied, "Yes…"

The apprentice then returned his attention to his guest and said, "There's little chance of success but I know one place to look! How about we take a look while dinner's cooking?"

Aeria gave a nonchalant shrug and nodded. “Why not? I’m kinda interested to know what sort of stuff people hand over to you. Plus you never do know what might appear!”

Viribus had no desire to get out of his seat, so he raised no objections and enjoyed his drink in peace.

Mille then chucked his shoes back on and led Aeria down the stairs, to the box of unsorted metal sitting on a bench. He grasped clumps of items out and spread them on the bench, ready to be inspected.

Following him down after sliding into her boots, Aeria’s violet gaze flicked across all the odd metal items in front of her. Having had some experience with terra regia in Craxtus’ lab, her eyes moved to dismiss most of the items there as Mille began to search.

She gave her companion an appraising look. “Geez. I don’t envy you this job, Mille!”

Mille started grabbing various nails, bolts, screws, washers, nuts, taps, faucets and other fittings out of the piles, hitting some against the steel edge of the bench, and tossing the various items into bins around the room. He replied, "It sucks at first, but with enough practise it's usually not hard to figure out what they're made of. Gold, brass, bronze and copper tend to be along a yellow to orange scale, you can see yourself in silver, nickel's pretty dense, and the rest you can just smack and listen to the noise they make. Like this box-" at which point Mille tapped the edge of the bench with it, it made a 'dink' noise… and then he stopped. The blacksmith's apprentice leaned forward, holding his ear closer and tapped with the box again. This close, he could barely make out a second, smaller 'clink' noise coming from within. With a look of doubt he said, "This… feels weird."

The lean, slim spurii came closer, leaning in as Mille tapped the metal on the table. “Interesting! That’s definitely a very distinct sound...I….”

Before he could elaborate, Viribus called down the stairs, "Dinner's ready!"

Aeria looked across at Mille. “I’m starved! Let’s come back to this after dinner and see what we can see!”

As the pair made their way upstairs, the young woman took a glance back, as if wondering what was awaiting them when they returned to their task.


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